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Best Practice Guide: Insights

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Intro

Your applications and environments are generating data to inform your work every second. Turning this data into actionable intelligence is your mandate. We’re here to help you do just that with Insights, which allows you to gather and visualize that data so that you see what’s happening in your applications.

We want you to get the most out of Insights, so we’ve put together this list of best practices that will set you up for success.

When you have reviewed these best practices, show off your new found skills. Take the Insights Best Practices Quiz to earn your badge.

Organisational tips

NRQL -> Widgets -> Dashboards -> Data Apps
NRQL (New Relic Query Language) is the SQL-like query language used in Insights to ask the business critical questions of your data. Your queries return charts/tables/gauges, which you can turn into a Widget by adding that chart to a Dashboard. Dashboards are a collection of Widgets displayed in one place. Dashboards can be linked together by utilising Data Apps, as a collection of dashboards with shared facets.

Share dashboards across accounts with the API:
Dashboards rely on widgets made up of NRQL queries. A lot of these queries may look at Custom Data that you add to that New Relic account, but those queries that use default attributes can be hugely useful for other accounts in your organisation. You may want your teams to use a common set of dashboards across their accounts so that you all have a shared understanding of the data. You can use the Dashboard API to pull a JSON version of any dashboards, and then use that JSON to push that same dashboard to any other account. Keep in mind that the queries behind your dashboard should only reference default attributes (as opposed to custom data) to ensure visibility across all accounts.

Add Dashboard descriptions with notes:
Dashboard notes are a great way to add a comments to your dashboards, making it clear to any viewer what the purpose of the dashboard is or how to read it. Notes support markdown, allowing you to add titles, headings, images, and more.

Understanding data

Format your data:
Insights automatically formats the data returned by your queries. For example, long integers that can be read as a unix timestamp are converted to human readable values. If you need to see your data in a different format, you can do that. The Data Formatter can be used to ensure your data displays as you intend.

Explore and Understand Attributes:
New Relic agents collect and send a wide variety of data to Insights. The Attribute Dictionary helps you to understand that data so that you can build the queries you need.
Simply select an event type or the data source from the Attribute Dictionary. From there you can see a detailed definition of every attribute that is collected from that source/event.

Metric/Event Explorer:
Sometimes you will need to drill into specific metrics, like the CPU Percent utilization per host for just 1 application. The metric explorer allows you to pick an application, and dig deeper into each metric reported by that app. Add these charts to your dashboards for a centralised view at metric data alongside NRQL event charts.

Making data actionable

Create a NRQL alert:
NRQL gives you the power to ask critical questions of your data. Some of those questions may be critical enough to warrant an alert. You can set an alert on any NRQL query that returns a single numeric value, giving you the flexibility to specifically define the alerts you need.

Send custom data.
Extensibility is one thing that makes Insights a crucial tool. The ability to send any custom data to Insights provides you the power to build dashboards that give you the full picture of your application. New Relic collects huge amount of standard data by default but your needs, or system may be different. Insights gives you multiple ways to send custom data, including through the Agent or directly through the Insert API.

Ready to learn more?

Looking for more Insights best practices and tips? Check out the Insights Level Up category.


About the Insights Category